I called the show office that morning. I asked if there were any scratches in Training Level. "Yes, the weather is awful. We have a Training 4 in the afternoon." I immediately snatched it. "I'm hardcore." I explained. Going to a show, in the rain, unprepared? Sure, why not? That wouldn't be crazy!
My husband was overworked and tired. So I called my brother. He agreed to serve as my "groom" in exchange for an evening at the pub. We headed over to the barn.
Armani's legs were covered in mud. I scrapped it off. But more stuck to him. "Oh well, it's just a schooling show. Everything will be muddy."
We tacked Armani up. He gave me more funny looks, but he behaved. Then I warmed up on the slick grass. I kept it slow and all went well. We entered the ring for our test...
"Loose horse! Look out! Loose horse!"I halted at the gate. An acquaintance's horse cantered by. "Oh dear!" I said. When he was caught I quickly put it out of mind. "I won't let it get to me." I thought. We rode into the ring...
The mud was up to Armani's knees and hocks in the corners and a steady rain fell on us. It looked like melted chocolate. He went forward willingly. I felt his muscles working to lift his legs high above the slop. We came around to our first canter depart, I queued him.
Slip... slide... Jump! Hop! Canter!.. slide... trot... queue... skid...Hmm... We were back to the point where we go back to trot. Ok - no blue ribbon. We got around to the 2nd canter depart. Queued...
Leap! Jump! Canter! Hop! *Grunts, groans* Slip... (lands on butt) slides... trot...He's being honest. I thought. At this point I made no attempt to queue him again. I just got a forward trot and in two strides we were back to where we'd trot anyway.
After our salute I sheepishly smiled and thanked the judge. "Great gaits." she said, "It's tough weather. When he's stronger behind, he'll have an easier time in mud."
It was a few hours before the scores were ready. I put on his Irish knit and my sweater. I gave him more hay, a drink, and sat with him. Armani gave me a dirty look and grumbled. I handed him half of my granola bar.
"Did you hear, FOUR horses went down?" At the office, I learned that 4 horses, including the one ridden by an acquaintance, fell down. I felt fortunate to have stayed upright. We got our score: 51%. I went over our marks. Most were 6 or 7 except the two canter sections. "No canter" "No canter so no transition" the scribe had written repeatedly. In the comments, "Good job despite difficult conditions!" and advice to work on strengthening his back-side.
Armani had been willing and obedient despite the weather. We headed home soaked but pleased.